The first Sunday of the 2007 World Series of Poker was a marked contrast to the previous day. After the struggle in jamming almost 3000 players into the different playing areas around the Rio on Saturday, Sunday brought relative calm — even though there were four events playing out during the day. One of those tournaments was a format favored by many veteran pros, Event #4, $1500 Pot Limit Hold 'Em.
Many professionals populated the 780-runner field, including David 'Devilfish' Ulliott, David Benyamine, Barry Greenstein, Humberto Brenes, Freddy Deeb, Can Kim Hua, Layne Flack and defending World Champion Jamie Gold. One of the early casualties of the event was Irishman Andrew Black; the early action generated in the pot-limit format took Black out before the event was an hour old. He wasn't alone in the parade out the doors; Gold, Greenstein, T.J. Cloutier, Michael Mizrachi and J.C. Tran were among those watching from the rail before the end of the first level.
The carnage continued into the evening as players dropped from the event. At times, some exchanges between the competitors was quite testy, as even this early in the World Series people are playing for a significant prize pool and a place in the history of the game. Both Freddy Deeb and Shannon Elizabeth made early moves and Jean-Robert Bellande made a strong climb up the leader board. For a while, it was also a good day for the defending champion of the event, Rafe Furst. He was able to work into the middle of the day before succumbing, assuring a new winner in the event.
Freddy Deeb captured the chip lead before the dinner break, but Bellande, Elizabeth and Gavin Smith were among those in hot pursuit. Elizabeth, though, lost most of her hard-earned stack just before and after the dinner break when her pocket aces and back to back Big Slicks were beaten. After fighting valiantly for some time, she was eliminated on a bad beat when she lost with A-4 to a blind stealer's 6-3.
Online player William 'Highroller48' Hill stormed from the back of the pack after dinner to assume the lead with 161,000 in chips as play approached the money bubble — 72 players would cash. Hill held the lead over his closest competitor, the aptly-named 'Playfast,' (actually Rob Gerstenzang) who had almost eclipsed the 100,000-chip mark. The two battled for the first-day chip lead, but there were still some pros within striking distance, with Bellande, Smith and Marco Traniello leading the pursuers.
Freddy Deeb cooled off massively after dinner, surviving an all-in against Gavin Smith to stay alive as the 2am curfew approached. Two other name pros weren't as fortunate as Deeb; David Plastik and Dan Alspach made the money but fell before the bell sounded, walking away with $2,985 for their efforts. As play finished up for the day, the Top Ten looked like this:
PLAYER — CHIPS
Rob 'Playfast' Gerstenzang — 156,500
William Hill — 139,000
Jean-Robert Bellande — 111,000
Mike Spegal — 98,000
Cody Slaubaugh — 96,500
Johnny Mack — 96,000
Shane Beckham — 77,500
Jeff Langdon — 69,000
Marco Traniello — 66,000
Gavin Smith — 65,000
Tony Basile — 65,000
51 players will resume the battle when the cards fly for the second day of the $1500 Pot Limit Hold 'Em event at 2pm PDT Monday. Will 'Playfast' live up to his name and make his way to the final table, or can the remaining pros in the field make their impact felt? Be sure to catch up with Day Two action through the WSOP Event #4 'Live Reporting' on PokerNews as the 2007 World Series of Poker continues on Monday.